Designers can no longer afford to ignore one of the most economically and environmentally impactful industries in the world.
Though Americans consume on average 200 pounds of meat each year, few stop to ponder the ways in which animals are bred, raised, and slaughtered. Largely hidden from public view, the global livestock sector is arguably the most ecologically influential industry in the world. It directly and indirectly impacts the world’s land and water resources, eroding biodiversity and contributing measurably to climate change. The sheer size of the industry makes it difficult to understand as a single system. In order to meet the world’s ever growing demand for meat products, the industry occupies 30% of the ice-free surce of the earth, uses 20% of the world’s fresh-water resources and contributes 18% of global greenhouse emissions. In fact, poultry operations alone are so large that chickens are estimated to outnumber humans worldwide by three to world. Yet however vast a system, the industry depends on a tightly coordinated and highly localized infrastructure to support production, processing and distrubtion networks.
Architects and landscape architets can no longer afford to ignore one of the most economically and environmental industries in the world. While much has been written about the ecological and ethical implications of meat production, there remains an opportunity to explore the infrastructural and architectural manifestations of the sector. This research project attempts just that, by analyzing the landscape of livestock and poultry production in the United States.